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The Great Alaskan Beer Tour of ’10

Moose by Kassik’s

Being the son of an oil man (or as my Father calls himself a glorified ditch digger), we moved around frequently growing up.  My childhood was spent in the states of AK, TX and La, and I graduated from high school in ’95 in Anchorage.  The family left the same summer for TX and other than a quick visit during the summer of ’96 I would not return until the summer of ’10 with my good buddy Travis (also known as T hereafter) who I’ve known since ’88.

All joking aside, he and I are both travel cursed and both these curses befell us during this trip.  My particular curse is planes tend to take off, without me.  Something always goes wrong on the way to the airport and this has developed into a paranoia concerning getting to the airport.  And Travis?  Well the airlines hate him and do their very best to lose his luggage every chance they get.  The Thursday I head out I’m txted “Get your ass on that plane, I will kill you if you miss it.”  My reply “I don’t miss planes, they miss me.”

The plan was very simple, I was to fly to Portland and meet up with my friends there, stay the night and then T and I would fly into Anchorage the following morning where we’d get our car and drive down to the Kenai to meet his father and family friend to take his boat out for a few nights fishing.  Therein lies the problem, we made a plan.

 Sure enough, I make my Thursday plane to PDX with a big box of beer in tow for the friends up there.  We do a backyard BBQ that ends abruptly at 1:30 in the morning when the police are summoned.  Apparently some neighbors do not share our sense of vacation revelry.  More’s the pity, we were having a lot of fun and they would have been invited over.

Friday we head to the airport and where I feel arriving 30 minutes prior to takeoff is more than ample time, we arrive 2 hours early.  T was determined to not have anything go wrong as we were to fly to Seattle before taking the long jump to Anchorage.  Spirits are high, drinks are flowing and we’re off to the Great White North.  As we push back from the PDX gate, we manage to travel about 300 yards when the plane stops and the engines start a weird whining up and down in pitch.  T looks to me and says, “This is your fault dammit.”

Pilot, “Ladies and gentleman, it appears the change oil light as come on our dash and we’re going to have to pull back to the gate to see what’s going on.”  Readers, it’s not my fault, something happens all the time.  We return to the gate and de-plane.  Chaos insues as people trying to get somewhere important bumrush the counter.  

Thanks Alaska Air

After awhile we managed to get to the counter to learn all the other flights to SEA were booked and our options were slim to do the SEA-ANC route.  We told the person we just wanted to get to Anchorage as we were leaving on a ‘cruise’ and if we didn’t make it, we’d be going after Alaska Air for reimbursement.  That did the trick and seats ‘appeared’ available on a direct flight PDX->ANC.

 

So we grabbed a beer…

 

 

So we did what we do best, we found a bar and sat down and had a few beers for the next 4 hours.  Thankfully Portland airport isn’t the dive that San Diego airport is, and they generally have better beer. At this point I start to regret not photographing everything because I don’t remember when I had to drink. I can assure you it wasn’t anything “Cascadian” which was on tap.

 

With a new found sense of hope for our adventure to continue we boarded our flight.  Sure we were late, sure our plans were hosed but with the warming from our beers and drink vouchers from the ticket desk we were well on our way.  As the plane pushed back from the gate, T looks over at me and says “I wonder where our bags are headed.  Guarantee you they’re not on this flight…and this is your fault.”

3.5hrs behind schedule with a 2.5hr drive when we arrive.  This trip is off to a rocky start but not horrible.  We arrive to discover our bags are MIA, probably in Canada, or Dead Horse or some other small native village in the bush.  The desk agent kindly informs us they’ll deliver our bags to us as soon as they come in.  And T quips “Ya’ll deliver out at sea?  We’re getting on a boat in 3hrs.  Thanks.”

A true POS.

Off to the car rental agency where we pick up this fantastic Dodge Craptaliber for the low cost of $1,200 for 9 days.We quickly discover the passenger rear turn signal isn’t working (lots of honking), the POS needed an oil change and would send a dinging noise to remind you every time you turned the car on, also the dinging noise that the turn signal light was out every time you tried to make a R hand turn.   Lots of swearing and ‘ding-ing’.

 

Now, for those that haven’t been to Alaska in the summer, it’s important to point out that it’s still light out until 12:30am.  While our bodies said “You should be tired” the daylight said “No you shouldn’t” and your sense take a real beating.  We managed to find a place that was open, grabbed some food and hit the road. 

A whole lot of this

About 11pm at “night”

 

Finally in Seward

 

Arrive late to Ray’s Waterfront to find Leo (T’s dad) and friend Tom who owned the boat. They’d been waiting 3hrs and were over-served. I had a Glacier IPA (excellent) which is an Anchorage Brewpub, more on that later. One beer and off to the boat. Which I didn’t take pics of.

 

Beautiful Soft Alaskan Day

 

 

 

2.5 days on the water and it was mostly like this.  Unfortunately I don’t have many pics as the only camera I had was my phone and the charger was conveniently touring western Canada, or something.  This is the real Alaska, overcast, rainy and cold.  Damn it was fun! 

 

 

2 for 1

 

 

I later had to put on rain pants as I was getting too wet, just a slow drissel, but being on a 32′ sailboat you were topside all the time. Cold, wet, rainy and soaked was pretty much the order of the day. Tom could really cook and knew his galley well, that guy made some amazing meals. For fishing we caught a herring, that then caught us a fish. 1 silver salmon that had a herring in it’s mouth/gullet when T pulled it in.  2 days of fishing and we caught 1 fish.

 

 

Galley Cooking

 

 

 

I did get sea sick, toss breakfast overboard and generally felt better after that. Joked w/ Tom it was his cooking, which he didn’t find funny. So I called him a dock whore and he felt better after that. Here’s Tom cooking, how he made such good food with such a tiny galley I don’t know.

 

 

 

For the record, we really didn’t stop in to get beer until down in Seward and there pickings were slim. Save Alaska and Midnight, no one bottles their beer and everything was shut down to snag growlers prior to getting on the boat. Thanks again Alaska Airlines.

After pulling back in and squaring the boat away we agreed to hit Tom’s house Tues night for dinner and he’d cook up the fish. T and I then had to decide to drive back to Anchorage or say screw it, we have no where to be or anytime to be there and headed down to Homer.

Before that, I nearly forgot and had to edit this, we did stop in a place right on the water. They had fermenters in the windows and I was excited for a non-listed place brewing beer. Only to discover they never started brewing onsite. However, the owner did tell me they are in talks to start pouring a slab for a brewpub in Seward around Jan 2011. No name yet for the joint, but all the equipment is there to start a place. The owner is also friends with the head brewer Kevin at Sleeping Lady and they will get that brewery running at some point.

Resurrection Roadhouse

 

Resurrection Roadhouse (on Resurrection Bay) that had good beers, so we had to stop in there. Again, pretty much all Alaskan breweries which was nice to keep trying more and more local beer.  Even though this place wasn’t a brewery, I had looked up everywhere prior and put it down as ‘must go’.  After all, we’re on a mission.  This was a log cabin building, pretty awesome and very ‘Alaskan’.

 

 

 

To Homer

 

 

Off to Homer….and more of this.  Homer is the end of the line. All the way down at the end of the Kenai Peninsula. 

 

 

 

 

 

Too Late!!

 

We get in late and start looking for a place to eat. There isn’t anything open, we stop in here. Pretty sure this was a brothel at some point in it’s shady past but the kitchen closed at 10pm.  Damn sun, no idea what time it is anywhere. They send us over to the Alibi for halibut tacos. I wanted to come back but once we got to the Alibi we were in for the haul. I will note in BEF Alaska you can still smoke in bars and it really sucks.

 

 

So much for these clothes, which I might remind our reader this was the only pair that was sorta clean as our bags were still lost at Anchorage International Airport by Alaska Airlines. The Halibut tacos did kick ass. While there Travis found a poker game ($5 Texas Hold’em, winner take all) and cleaned out the locals. He told me later they were a bunch of chumps. Thankfully we didn’t get run out by the fishermen mad about some ‘out of towners’ cleaning ’em out. I took the $60 he won and tossed it to the barkeep and thanked T for winning us dinner and giving her a fat tip.

Beer on tap was a mix of Homer Brewing, Glacier and Kenai. I can’t remember what I had and while I did jot down some notes but they got lost. I do remember drinking Homer beer and being thoroughly unimpressed esp when the barkeep poured me a 2nd before I asked for it as I wanted to switch beers. Did visit all the breweries so I will recap the beers I had there later.

Got to the Best Western, finally took the first shower since Friday and passed the hell out.

Alaska Train

 

Note: at some point we passed this Alaska Train, which is always fun to see.  T and I were standing by the side of the road like a couple of loons waving and cheeering.  For our efforts we got a very long horn blow and as the train rolled past, the fella in the caboose poked his head out and rang the ‘all aboard’ bell.  Felt like I was 5 yrs old again.

 

I think I’m going to split this into multiple posts…next up: The Beer!!!

Categories : Beer Travels

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